Updated: Dec 17, 2021
What Are Skin Tags & What Can I Do About Them?
Skin tags are a common concern that brings people to the dermatology office. While skin tags can be a nuisance, the good news is that they are not generally harmful to your health. According to Doctor “Skin tags aren’t harmful, but a large number of patients wish to get rid of them. Many patients try to remove their skin tags at home, but this can actually be more dangerous to your health than just living with them. It’s really important to talk to your dermatologist about professional skin tag removal if one or more of these bumps is bothering you.” In this blog, you can find out more about skin tags and available treatments for this skin condition. What are Skin Tags? The medical diagnostic name for skin tags is acrochordons. Skin tags are extremely common, benign skin growths. Almost 50% of adults will develop at least one skin tag. These growths are most likely to develop between the ages of 20 and 70, but children and seniors can also develop skin tags. While skin tags can appear in your twenties, they are more likely to appear as you age. Unlike many skin conditions that have a tendency to impact one gender more often than the other, skin tags are just as common for men and women. Skin tags are soft growths that frequently develop in skin folds. Common parts of the body where skin tags develop include under the arms, around the neck, on the eyelids, in the groin, and under the breasts. However, they can form on any area of the body. In most cases, skin tags are the same shade as your natural skin tone, or they may have flesh-toned stalks with darker coloring on the end. Most skin tags are very small between 2 and 5 millimeters, but they can grow to between 1 and 3 centimeters over time. Typically, skin tags are not painful, but they can get caught or snag on clothes, jewelry, and other items, which can hurt. Additionally, skin tags with longer stalks can become twisted, leading to blood clots.
Friction – rough clothing that rubs the skin, repetitive motion, irritation
Weight – individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop skin tags
Systemic illnesses – while it’s not fully supported, some researchers believe insulin resistance in diabetics may play a role
Skin health concerns – some chronic skin conditions have been linked to the development of skin tags, specifically Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome
Genes – those who have family members with skin tags seem to be more likely to develop them
Aging – loss of skin firmness and elasticity as collagen and elastin production decreases may play a role
Pregnancy – expectant mothers and individuals experiencing dramatic hormonal fluctuation often develop skin tags
several risk factors increase the chances for skin tag development, including:
One or more skin tags in a specific area are snagging on clothing, jewelry, and other items presenting a risk for the skin tag to be torn off or damaged.
If skin tags are irritated causing discomfort, you may want to consider having them removed.
If the appearance or location of skin tags bothers you, a dermatologist can remove the growth for cosmetic reasons.
If you notice that your skin tag is firm, not the same color as surrounding skin or has multiple colors, is bleeding, or that it grows or changes rapidly, it may be a more serious skin condition. In these situations, your dermatologist will remove the skin tag and perform a biopsy to ensure it’s not cancerous.
Bleeding – removing a skin tag on any part of the body can lead to bleeding that’s difficult to stop, especially since skin tags often appear on the neck where heavy bleeding is common. Additionally, these small growths can form over blood vessels, and removing them without proper training may cause you to nick a vein or capillary, leading to excessive blood loss.
Cancer diagnosis – while skin tags are not typically cancerous or a symptom of skin cancer, they do require a professional diagnosis. What looks like a skin tag to you may actually be something more serious. You should always allow a professional to examine the skin tag and make an accurate diagnosis.
Scars – properly removed, skin tags are unlikely to cause any scarring, but when skin tags are improperly removed, you are much more likely to see long term damage to the skin. Even if you’re not worried about the damage to your appearance, scarring can cause other issues, including limiting your range of motion.